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Cleric held over Garissa University terror attack

By Fred Makana | Published Tue, April 21st 2015 at 11:27, Updated April 21st 2015 at 11:30 GMT +3
Hassan Mahat Omar at the Milimani Law Courts where he was remanded for 30 days to allow Anti-Terrorism police complete investigations over his alleged link to the Garrissa University attack. [Photo: George Njunge/Standard]

Nairobi-based Muslim cleric Hassan Mahat Omar has been arrested for allegedly funding the Garissa University College terror attack which left 148 people dead.

Omar, who is facing another terror-related case, was remanded by Milimani Senior Resident Magistrate Benson Nzakyo for 30 days.

Director of Public Prosecutions through State Counsel Daniel Karori urged the court to remand Omar to assist Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) detectives in ongoing investigations into the April 2 attack.

“The ATPU wants to interrogate this subject and another in relation to the attack,” Karori said.

In the pending case before the Chief Magistrate’s court, Omar and his wife Fardosa Mohamed Abdi are accused of being in possession of two hand grenades intended for mass destruction.

The couple was arrested last year after ATPU detectives said the grenades were suspected to have been sneaked into the country by Al-Shabaab operatives and were headed to key Islamic religious teachers in Nairobi.

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However, they were later released on bond pending the hearing and determination of their case but Omar was arrested again three days ago.

While seeking for custodial orders Monday, the prosecution alleged that Omar and another suspect Ali Hassan Gure who is yet to be arraigned in court, are strongly believed to be close associates of the suspected mastermind of the recent university attack Mohamed Kuno alias Sheikh Mahamad Garmadhere - the Al-Shabaab leader of Juba Region in Somalia.

According to ATPU, a financial entity associated with Gure is among the 85 entities that were blacklisted over allegations of funding terror activities in the country, while Omar is suspected to be radicalising youth and facilitating their exodus to Somalia to join the outlawed terror group.

Karori said ATPU was still analysing data from Safaricom and Central Bank’s Financial Crimes Unit in a bid to establish Omar and Gure’s communication and financial status.

“ATPU also believes the two are in constant communication with known Al-Shabaab adherents in the country,” the prosecution said.

Meanwhile, two police officers have been summoned by Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucy Mbugua to testify in a case against Abdirizack Muktar Edow, the alleged owner of a vehicle found with eight hand grenades in Mandera Town on May 31 last year.

Edow is also accused that on June 2 at Talek within Narok County, was found in possession of a mobile phone that had articles for the use in instigating the commission of a terrorist attack. The chief magistrate issued the summons after Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu informed the court that the case could not proceed until police constable Franklin Okisai appears to explain to the court why witnesses in the case were not bonded.

Another police officer Nicholas Waringa a forensic expert was summoned to testify in the case after the prosecution said he failed to testify in court on April 17 and 20 and no explanation has so far been given to the court over his absence.

The magistrate directed the two to appear in court on April 27.